February 23, 2021

Cold spell puts hurt on Texas produce growers

After a week of freezing temperatures, vegetable and citrus farmers across the state are assessing the damage, with widespread losses expected.

“It’s down, it’s beat, it’s withered, and it’s falling apart,” Dante Galeazzi, President and CEO of Texas International Produce Association told news organization Valley Central.

Last weekend, the Texas Citrus Mutual, reported losing 55% of grapefruit crops because of the arctic blast, with citrus industry losses estimated to be at least $300 million.

Out of more than 40 vegetable crops grown in the southern Rio Grande Valley, only three are hopeful to survive, onions, cabbage and potatoes.

“It’s going to be a tough decision for them to decide. Do they go in and try and salvage a little bit or do they just put it all to plow?” said Galeazzi.

Farmers said it is too late to replant most crops, so they are looking at a second straight spring, where they are unable to harvest.

Prices likely to rise

Little Bear Produce in Edinburg grows, packs, and ships produce, normally it would be peak season. Now, they are plowing over damaged crops and said that more than 700 jobs are now in jeopardy.

“Those folks are suffering too through this time because now the work has dried up,” Bret Erickson, director of business development, Little Bear Produce, was quoted as saying. “That’s their livelihood, and that’s how they put food on the table, and pay their bills. So, this hurts everybody in the community.”

Erickson said they are replanting what they can, Valley Central reported.

“Ultimately mother nature is going to dictate whether you’ve had a successful season or not, but we’re resilient and we will most certainly come back stronger,” said Erickson.

The loss does not only economically impact farmers, but the general public too.

“As a consumer, you can expect that your fruit and vegetables are probably going to be a little more expensive over the next six to eight weeks, especially until we have supply from the next growing region,” said Galeazzi.


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